Metro Detroit health systems mull how, when to require vaccines for their workers

“The vaccine is going to be mandatory in most health systems because if you don’t get vaccinated you can get it and give it to someone who could be a patient and bring the disease to the workplace if you can’t control the issue for that most hospitals, “said Jodka. “There are very few legitimate exceptions and since there are many different vaccines for the virus, housing staff should be relatively straightforward. I have not yet seen a legal objection that goes further than you can just get another vaccine.”

For example, to comply with religious exemption guidelines, an employee must demonstrate that the mandate violates a deeply rooted religious belief, such as certain chemicals in the vaccine. Some religious workers have requested an exemption from vaccines that use fetal cells to grow the dormant virus. However, none of the COVID-19 vaccines use human cells like some vaccines like the chickenpox, hepatitis A and rabies vaccines.

However, hospital systems are also unlikely to challenge exemptions if they appear to meet the criteria, said Grant Pecor, partner and employment lawyer at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Grand Rapids.

Pecor said lawsuits are likely to be filed against health systems challenging religious exemptions, but those, too, are likely to fail.

“The dishes were strict,” said Pecor. “Ultimately, there is a Christian belief that it does no harm. In this case, refusing a vaccine can harm, and being a Christian is not a legitimate basis for refusal.”

Politics is also a concern, said Peters.

About 23 states have limited “vaccine passports” or requirements; but many of them exclude health systems.

“There are many lawmakers and influential people in communities who are very opposed to a vaccination mandate,” said Peters. “In so far as there could be a public policy that is not only an obstacle to the COVID vaccine and could complicate the vaccine mandate for the flu. Health systems, especially in rural communities, may not want to follow this line right now. ”

Pecor questions the notion that systems are waiting for FDA approval or considering legal factors. Instead, the forces of the labor market drive the decision.

“It doesn’t matter who mandates first or when the FDA grants approval, but when the job market stabilizes,” Pecor said. “You are all facing a labor shortage right now. If you have employees who won’t get vaccinated and go away, what will they do if they can’t replace them? “

Peters agrees that staffing matters.

“CEOs are currently afraid of introducing a vaccine as it could force some of their ICU staff out of the system and they cannot afford it right now,” said Peters.

Valentini said some employees quit when DMC prescribed the flu vaccine almost a decade ago. And that’s a constant consideration on whether or not to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory, he said.

Riney said the potential mandate would not be affected by labor considerations.

“The labor shortage weighs heavily on our heads regardless of the vaccination issue,” said Riney. “It’s hard to attract and retain talent in certain areas, yes, but it wouldn’t get in the way of doing what we thought was right. We’d do everything we can to address those concerns. We can’t to do.” do what is in the right interests of our team members and those we serve because of our inability to be co-workers. ”

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